With event’s record number of marathon entries of 11 000 and the number of participants in all the runs (more than 30 000), 31st Athens Classical Marathon impressed honorary guests, among them IOC Executive Board member and IAAF Vice President Sergey Bubka.
«I am absolutely amazed by the number of happy faces I've seen», said Bubka for the local media. «The atmosphere is fantastic. I've seen thousands of children and people with special needs who are the part of this celebration. Some people prepared special costumes to entertain the audience. Lots of celebrities, presenters, singers and actors, Olympians taking part. I congratulate the organizers and Hellenic Federation for making such a great celebration».
Athens marathon, launched in 1972, is known for its own traditions connected with history. On the day before marathon the Flame is lit and brought to the legendary Panathnaikos Stadium. The route of the marathon distance is dated back to the Battle of Marathon, 490 B.C, and the legend of Phiddipides. The route, used at the 2004 Olympics, is very demanding – it goes uphill from 10th to 31st kilometer.
«I never tried marathon», said Bubka. «This distance is very challenging, it demands a lot of time for the preparation. I can run for an hour or so for my own pleasure, non-competitively. But I'm a great fun of running, cycling, swimming and any other activities which help me to stay in shape».
Due to the demanding route of the Athens Marathon the surprise winners appear often. 2013 Marathon was conquered by Hillary Yego, well-known Kenyan long-distance runner, who made his debut in marathon (2:13:59). Another Kenyan Joan Rotich won women's competitions (2:41:38), while Sergey Bubka's compatriot from Ukraine, Svitlana Stanko, was close in second (2:42:03).
«What will be the next world record?», said Bubka, who is also a President of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine, answering a question for the SEGAS web site. «It is difficult to make prognosis. 2:03:23 is great time but there are a lot of runners who can potentially perform better. Anyway everything is up to athletes and organizers».
«Marathon is obviously more than just a sport. There are no losers here – In fact every finisher is treated like a winner which makes marathon the most democratic competition. I congratulate all the winners of the pro division, and my special greetings to Svitlana. Ukraine has great traditions in long-distance running. We also have two world class marathons – in Kyiv and in Bila Tserkva. They do not have such a long traditions which Athens Marathon can boast, but I hope organizers will join their efforts with national federation and local authorities to arrange the same great celebration».
«I'm sure every big city should have its own running festival – whether it is a marathon, half marathon and 10 k – as it is the best way to promote sport and active lifestyle for young generation, and to make the community healthy and friendly».